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Wine Storage Misconceptions: The Truth About Your Reds & Whites

 
Tuesday, April 8th, 2008 at 9:02:05 AM
by David L., Wine Enthusiast Companies

Wine Enthusiast Temperature and Humidity GaugeOne of the most common misconceptions about storing wine is: reds are stored at one temperature and whites are stored at another. The truth of the matter is: reds and whites are stored at the same temperature, 53-57˚F. (Only the serving temperatures are different.) The middle of this range, 55˚F, is considered the holy grail of temperature grades, not too cold to impede wine maturation and not too warm to accelerate it. Temperature extremes in either direction, low or high, can ultimately spoil a good wine. Knowing the delicate nature of wine makes it easy to understand why a conventional refrigerator just doesn’t cut it as a wine storage solution; another popular misconception. To learn why a wine refrigerator or wine cellar is the best place to store your wine, read Wine Fridge Vs. Regular Fridge. What I mean by “storage,” by the way, is basically the place you keep your wine when you’re not drinking it, be it for a day, a week, or a year.

I’m always curious about where people keep their wine after they bring it home from the store. Do they leave it in the box? The fridge? The basement? Where do you keep yours? Post a comment and let me know, and if there’s anything you’d like to add to this topic, feel free! All insights are welcome.

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16 Responses to “Wine Storage Misconceptions: The Truth About Your Reds & Whites”

  1. Shouldn’t retail shops selling wine have the wine housed in an environment that has the right temperature and humidity level? Is it just too cost prohibitive?

  2. @Katie, great question. Ideally yes, a wine shop would keep temperatures at 55-57 with ideal humidity levels. But frankly it’s uncomfortable for customers and most shops would argue that they move wine quickly enough for the temperature/humidity levels of the store to be negligible. That may not be true everywhere though. There is a store called Moore Brothers that prides itself on keeping temps in the store at around 55, so that the wines are at home. Check’em out here, http://moorebrothersblogs.com they have a few locations. But burr, is it chilly in there!

  3. WE just installed a 2 zone danby 166 bottle fridge. We keep the whites at 47 and the reds at 56 degrees. we do this for a reason, to drink the wines and enjoy them right out of the fridge. We have about 10 bottles of fairly expensive wines and everything else is in the $20-$30 range. We really do enjoy wines with friends on the weekends and i dont want to have to take wine out of my fridge and “Chill” it, it doesnt make sense to me. average life span for wine in our fridge, whites, one month, reds, some a few years, but most about 1 year.

  4. 4 Herman Schaap said:

    I always understood that humidity is important for the cork. How about the wines that are beginning to be sold with plastic corks? Is humidity an important factor for these bottles ?
    Thank you for your response.

  5. 5 Marshall (Wine Enthusiast Wine Storage Consultant) said:

    From my understanding, humidity will not play a role in storing wines with synthetic corks or screw tops. However, most of the wines that are really meant to be stored for longer periods of time are still using the original corks, especially French and Italian wines. The Europeans seem to be very reluctant to use any other option. There is a large movement being made towards screw caps, especially in New Zealand, but for the time being the good old fashioned corks still reign supreme.

  6. Katie,
    You are correct in the assumption that retail shops should have wines stored at the appropriate temperatures, I am the B2B Consultant at the Wine Enthusiast and many of my retail clients have specific areas of their retail floors that house a few of our wine cellars , with each one specifically set for the approprioate varietal. I just vistied a client while on vacation in Las Vegas, he had a very intresting set up. Upon entering I noticed that the rear 1/2 section of the location had 9 of our wine cellars housed inside his wall ( all vented properly to an exterior room) and in each cellar he diplayed varietals from all over the world.
    The setup was in the shape of a tic-tac-toe board, which was both eye-cathing and easily accesible to the customers. This was also very cost effective on clients side and a great way to move his inventory quicker
    As you can see Katie, creativity & functionallity works with proper wine storage in any retail setting.

  7. 7 Miguel Lecuona said:

    Regarding the goal of maintaining a constant 55 degrees… It is reassuring to know that no less than Chateau Margaux stores wines in buildings with ambient temperatures that vary with the seasons, changing gradually from low 50s to mid 60s degrees from winter to Summer. Their website discusses this in detail. They have vintages well over 100+ years with no apparent degradation. And Robert Parker himself has written about his controlled cellars using strict temperature parameters, and his own passive cellars with seasonal variation. He has posted on his on site that he was unable to discern any differences in wines (other than label deterioration from hi-humidity passive cellar) from the same vintage when stored for 10+ years in either cellar.

    Abrupt temperature spikes and swings from low to levels above 72 degrees for hours/ days/ weeks can cook wine in time. Living in Texas or anywhere in the South, a wine fridge or controlled cellar is required for extended storage or aging. You might consider adding a battery-backed UPS on fridges containing treasures to so that an extended power outage will not pose a threat — it does take a while for a fridge full of 55 degree wine to exceed a danger-level of temps. In the Northeast, passive cellars can work to great effect, too, but you have to be certain about your storage conditions. Always good to have options. And YES the bottom line is this sort of care and concern will pay dividends down the road when you open your treasures. Cheers.

  8. I unfortunately don’t have a basement or garage with a constant temperature that would make it easy for me to store a lot of wine at home. I have a Eurotemp wine cellar that holds about 40-50 bottles between 53 and 57°F. The other bottles at home are “stored” at room temperature – mostly whites and rosés which will be drunk within a month or two. The rest of my wine is stored in a cellar space at a constant 55°F at a wine distrbutor’s facility that also rents storage space. I make frequent trips to that location for work, so the hassle is minimal.

  9. IF a bottle of red is pressure sealed and stored in the refrigerator after drinking some, does it damage the wine? Would it be better to leave it at room temperature and chill it before serving?

  10. @Kenny, thanks for the question. Actually pressure sealing it with a VacuVin or the like and putting it in the refrigerator is the perfect solution. The cool temperature will slow down the oxidation process.

  11. Can transferring a bottle of wine (average, non vintage) from a wine fridge and storing in room temperature ruin the wine?

  12. Hi Danielle– The transfer will not ruin the wine but it’s best to keep your wine in the wine fridge for as long as possible. Room temperature is too hot for long-term storage.

  13. Hi I just purchased a vinotemp 160 bottle dual zone wine fridge for my RED wine storage. If i keep it a the 55 degree mark my bottom shelf has very cold wines and my top shelf has wines in the 60-63 degree range.

    Also I have had it now for three weeks and have noticed about 20% of my wine labels are starting to bubble at the edges.

    Can somebody please help me and tell me what to do

    thank you

    wine novice

  14. 14 John Murtaugh said:

    I can understand how overly warm storage temperatures can harm wine.

    Why would overly cool temperatures cause problems other than slowing up maturiry?

    My cellar room used for storing wine gets down to about 6 degrees celsius in the cold part of winter here in Toronto and perhaps as high as 24 in August, although the average maybe around 18.

    I am grateful for any advive regarding my “wine cellar”

  15. 15 Greg Nordstrom said:

    our SE Minnesota home has a wood foundation with a 6ft by 20 ft basement closet underneath the cement slab (8″ thick) that is our front porch. Being below grade and under the cement slab, winter temperatures range around mid to upper 50s F, and summer upwards of 65-70F. This is below ideal fermentation temperatures year round, and seems to serve well. I have had $100 Cabs stored for upwards of 5 years in this closet (total age 8 years) that have been absolutely delicious. Humidity is stable (so don’t think the cords are affected by variability) and it is incomplete darkness except when we are in the closet for things — like storing or retrieving wine!

    So overall, I think a temperature below 70F — below 65 F for 9 months of 12? — seems to not accelerate aging, with the caveat that a dark and humidity stable location may be an important factor overall.

  16. Hi experts,
    We have a vacation home in AZ., we leave the thermostate just below 90 degrees when we are not there. We have been taking wine back and forth with us every time we go. My question is can we leave our red wines in the fridge at 42 degrees for two ish weeks, surely to be consumed the next visit or are we better off to transport back and forth?
    Thank you for any feed back.
    Lisa

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